It’s true; locals and tourists in Charleston love to shop, and it’s imperative to know the right places to pick up a funky vase or a hip hat. CP readers have made it clear where they go when they need a new popped-collar pink Polo (M. Dumas & Sons) or a nice brooch for grandma (Croghan’s Jewel Box), as well as who they trust when their cars are on the fritz (Gerald’s). The complete list of Readers’ Picks for best shops and wares follows.


Best Mall/Shopping Area
Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre

Best Department Store
1600 Palmetto Grande Dr. Mt. Pleasant 216-9900

Best Window Display
Saks Fifth Ave.
211 King St. Downtown 853-9888

Best Women’s Clothing Store
Copper Penny
311 King St. Downtown 723-2999

Best Men’s Clothing Store
M. Dumas & Sons
294 King St. Downtown 723-8603

Best Children’s Clothing Store
Gap Kids
2070 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley 571-1939

Best Boutique
Copper Penny
311 King St. Downtown 723-2999

Best Jewelry Store
Croghan’s Jewel Box
308 King St. Downtown 723-3594

Best Shoe Store
Bob Ellis
332 King St. Downtown 723-2945

Best Vintage Clothing Store
Granny’s Goodies
301 King St. (Through Cumberland’s) Downtown

Best Thrift Store
Goodwill Industries
8550 Rivers Ave. N. Charleston 574-9009
and other locations

Best Flea Market
Coastal Carolina Flea Market
165 Market St. Ladson 797-0540

Best Antique Store
Page’s Thieves Market
1460 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 884-9672

Best Furniture Store
621 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 884-7005

Best Home Accessories Store
Pier One Imports
1909 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley 571-4454
7643 Rivers Ave. N. Charleston 764-3385
1128 Market Center Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 216-1881

Best Garden Store/Nursery
Hyam’s Landscaping and Garden Center
870 Folly Road James Island 795-4570

Best Pet Store
2 Windermere Blvd. West Ashley 852-5811
620-K Long Point Road Mt. Pleasant 971-8650
114 E. Richardson Ave. Summerville 851-8173

Best Art Supply Store
Artist and Craftsman Supply
434 King St. Downtown 579-0077

Best Paint StorE
464 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 556-4021

Best Frame Shop
Havens Picture Framing and Gallery
1070 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 881-1543

Best Grocery Store
Harris Teeter
290 East Bay St. Downtown 722-6821
and other locations

Best Gourmet Grocery Store
Whole Foods
923 Houston Northcutt Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 971-7240

Best Corner Store
157 Broad St. Downtown 723-4054

Best Health Food Store
Whole Foods
923 Houston Northcutt Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 971-7240

Best Wine Shop
Total Wine
1820 Ashley River Road West Ashley 763-7034

Best Tobacco Shop
The Tinder Box
177 Meeting St. Downtown 853-3720

Best Liquor Store
Total Wine
1820 Ashley River Road West Ashley 763-7034

Best Hardware Store
Royall ACE Hardware
883 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 884-2551

Best Internet Service Provider
4400 Belle Oaks Dr. N. Charleston 554-4100

Best Cell Phone Provider
SunCom Wireless
401 King St. Downtown 853-8010
and other locations

Best Lighting Store
Charleston Lighting & Interiors
1640 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley 766-3055
1109 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. Mt. Pleaasant 352-0188

Best Dry Cleaner
Smith Family Cleaners
336 Folly Road James Island 795-8857
and other locations

Best Florist
Tiger Lily
131 Spring St. Downtown 723-2808

Best Pawn Shop
Money Man Pawn
450 Meeting St. Downtown 577-9111
and other locations

Best Place to Buy New CDs
Millennium Music
372 King St. Downtown 722-1000
1732 Towne Centre Way Mt. Pleasant 971-2005

Best Place to Buy Used CDs
Monster Music and Movies (previously Manifest Disc & Tapes)
946 Orleans Road West Ashley 571-4657

Best CD Store Staff
Millennium Music
372 King St. Downtown 722-1000
1732 Towne Centre Way Mt. Pleasant 971-2005

Best Place to Rent Videos
334 East Bay St. Downtown 722-2257
and other locations

Best Place to Rent “B” Videos
52.5 Records
75 Wentworth St. Downtown 722-3525

Best Bookstore
Barnes & Noble
7620 Rivers Ave. N. Charleston 572-2322
1716 Towne Centre Way Mt. Pleasant 216-9756
1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley 556-6561

Best Comic Book Store
Atomic Comics
451 King St. Downtown 534-2866

Best Used Book Store
Boomers Books & Collectibles
420 King St. Downtown 722-2666

Best Musical Instrument Store
Ye Olde Music Shop
1276 Yeamans Hall Road Hanahan 747-0014

Best Place to Buy a Used Car
Mama’s Used Car Supermarket
1940 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 556-6262

Best Place to Buy a New Car
Rick Hendrick Automotive Group
1518 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 763-8403

Best Car Wash
Cactus Carwash & Detailing
1522 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 571-7789

Best Tire Store
Gerald’s Tires and Brakes
1 Magnolia Road West Ashley 566-1910
and other locations

Best Place to Get Your Car Fixed
Gerald’s Tires and Brakes
1 Magnolia Road West Ashley 566-1910
and other locations

Best Motorcycle Shop
American Biker
1601 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 573-0600

Best Cab Company
Yellow Cab
2019 Cherry Hill Lane N. Charleston 577-6565

Best Limo Company
“A” Star Limousine Service
1942 Summerville Ave. N. Charleston 745-6279
1934 Doscher Ave. N. Charleston 745-6279

Best Law Firm/Lawyer
Akim Anastopoulo
215 East Bay St. Suite 305 Downtown 722-8070

Best Realty Company
Prudential Carolina Estate
4024 Salt Pointe Pkwy. West Ashley 202-2050
and other locations

Best Insurance Agency
State Farm
various locations

Best Bank
16 Broad St. Downtown 937-4550
177 Meeting St. Downtown 727-2969
and other locations


Best Stretch on King Street to Score Comfy Kicks
Phillips Shoes, Oscar Thompson Shoes, Mephisto
318 King St. Downtown 965-5720
24 King St. Downtown 722-4635
324 King St. Downtown 722-4666

Sliding into shoes that fit perfectly feels like putting your feet to bed. And there’s no better place to coddle your dogs than along King Street’s “cozy row.” At Phillips Shoes and Oscar Thompson, you can browse through stylish Cole Haans, Eccos, Dansks and Merrills; or, for casual wear, Tevas, Reefs, and Rainbows. And when you’re ready to drop some real bank (as much as $400) on the zenith of ultra-comfort, Mephisto is right next door. —Spencer Deering

Best Place to PERK UP Your Prada Slingbacks
Mac’s Shoe Repair
1223 Ben Sawyer Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 881-5729

Look for the neon yellow sign on Coleman Boulevard in Mt. Pleasant to find the shoe repair shop that can fix anything that ails your kicks. While the help behind the counter can easily be classified as, ahem, intense (think Soup Nazi from Seinfeld), the work is prompt and precise. And if they announce that your shoes are “bad,” try not to let your lip quiver. Rest assured that you are not the most hopeless case of broken heels or missing taps to cross their counter … they’ve seen it all. —Ida Becker

Best Place for Sexy Underthings
Bits of Lace
302 King St. Downtown 577-0999

This sexy little shop moved this past year into a new space farther up King Street. Its big display window, next door to King Street Grille, is adorned with hot-ass bits of lace guaranteed to make your man pant and sweat. Forget Victoria’s Secret with its underwear every girl from here to Montana is wearing. This lingerie boutique can even make mannequins look like they’ve got it going on. We dare you to walk by without falling into a brief but hot fantasy about what you (or your woman) might look like wearing whatever it was you just saw. —Stephanie Barna

Best Place to Get the World’s Most Comfortable Thong
Ellen B
152 Civitas St. Mt. Pleasant 856-0760

The idea of “buttfloss” isn’t appealing to everyone, but there are a select few who actually prefer the minimalist route downstairs. Ellen B in Mt. P offers a low-rise thong panty by Hanky Panky that’s made of lace and is somehow one-size-fits-all. Now your flanks are free underneath those hip-huggers. —Tracey Palmer

Best Way to Upset Your Man
Shop at Moo Roo
316 King St. Downtown 724-1081

Nothing’s more upsetting to a man than a woman dropping some hard-earned cash on a purse, especially one that can haul around only one or two tubes of lipstick and maybe a cell phone. Moo Roo hit the big time when stars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Sharon Stone started carrying their bags on the red carpet (the same way Kate Spade got lucky when her brother-in-law David got Cindy Crawford to appear with her merch), and once a star gets pictured with your goods, the rest of the world will surely glom on (see the Ugg boot phenomena — ugg-h). Today, Moo Roo has parlayed celebrity success into a multi-million dollar business. We recently wandered into its King Street showroom and found ourselves fingering a silly little bag called the “Fang” and briefly toyed with the idea of really pissing off our husband by buying the damn thing. Then we saw the nearly $400 price tag and thought better of it. —Stephanie Barna

Best New Place for Emergency Accessorization
333 King St. Downtown 723-7208
644-G Long Point Road Mt. Pleasant 971-4019 (opening mid-March)

A dame’s dilemma: you have a hot date tonight, and you need some simple yet elegant accessories to complement your snazzy new dress. You can’t spend much cash, but you’ve definitely got higher standards than shopping at a pre-teen jewelry shop in the mall. Solution? Head to Handpicked. You’ll find an array of sterling silver bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, mostly priced under $25. Bonus: you’ll be able to wear the same goods tomorrow with a T-shirt and jeans and still look just as stylish. —Brittany Inman

Best Eyes
Jackson Davenport
379 King St. Downtown 722-4416

Want those aviator lenses that Jay-Z is always wooing Beyoncé with? How about the giant Burberry, Gucci, or Kate Spade shades that are seen wrapping the faces of young Hollywood and thus too hot not to want? Not to mention those special-order Cartier frames that you dreamt about. For the last 50 years, Jackson Davenport has kept Charlestonians looking chic and the service is top-shelf. The horn-rimmed frames available at Ben Silver put the haberdashery in the running for this superlative, but their selection of Sunday celebrity brunch-worthy shades is a tad lacking. After all, brunch is an official sport here in Charleston. —Ida Becker

Best Corsage Spot
Charleston Flower Market
1952 Maybank Hwy. James Island 795-0015

A frequent and favorite spot of ours, we have yet to walk out the door with anything short of dazzling from the Charleston Flower Market. With daily deliveries direct from the growers, walking into their freezer is an out-of-body experience — like being Dorothy in the poppy field. Specializing in old-fashioned garden flowers and unusual seasonal flowers, arrangements are elegant and impressive. Best part, a truly stunning arrangement can be had for less than $20! Flower arrangements from this corner nook can change your whole outlook, if not your destiny. —Ida Becker

Best Bow Tie, Hands Down
Granny’s Goodies
301 King St. 577-6200

Ha ha! You thought we’d pin this one on Ben Silver or Dumas. Mais, non! In a sea of black tie, it can be hard to be distinct. And while regimental bow ties are always an option, as are ruffled tuxedo shirts and the use of 1970s baby blue, the most excellent accessory we’ve seen was spotted in the window at Granny’s Goodies … a Budweiser bow tie and cummerbund. While SEWE, flush with its intriguing camouflage fashion hit parade, has come and gone, there is always next year … and of course the string of fundraisers, weddings, and deb balls in the meantime (not to mention the Best of Charleston Prom). Bud heavy tied in a bow — belly up! —Ida Becker

Best Place to Buy a Hat
Magar Hatworks
557 ½ King St. Downtown 577-7740

You’ve unconciously witnessed the bad-assedness of these hats on the heads on Sandra Bullock and Christina Aguilera. Leigh Magar makes hats the old-fashioned way, on hat forms, providing that classic look and fit that a handmade work of art should have. Hand-dyed felt and unique trims guarantee no one else will be spotted out and about wearing your hat. —Tracey Palmer

Best Place to Get Locally Made Jewelry
Out of Hand
113 Pitt St. Mt. Pleasant 856-3585

Tucked away in the heart of the Old Village is Out of Hand, a wonderfully chic neighborhood store. Amidst the racks of vibrant scarves, funky handbags perfect for girls’ night out, laugh out loud greeting cards, luscious lip-glosses by Bella Il Fiore, and a line of whimsical laptop bags, a profusion of handmade jewelry can be found. Using a variety of soft hue pearls, pretty semi-precious stones and chunky gems, the store boasts an enticing selection of contemporary styled necklaces and flirty chandelier earrings. Prices are fair and the workmanship appears to be high in quality. One whole wall alone boasts necklace after necklace. Best part, according to the sales staff, 95 percent of the jewelry is made by the owner. What a busy bee! —Ida Becker

Best Place to Become a Jewelry Maker
Beads and Beauty
845 B Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 377-0896

From rare, hand-carved jade pendants and intricately painted shell beads imported from Xang-Xhi, this place is the Eastern alternative to other jewelry-making suppliers in the Lowcountry. —Tracey Palmer

Best Place to Get a Hot Pair of Jeans
Bella Rose
93 Society St. Downtown 723-0808

A good pair of blue jeans is hard to find. Just when you finally get a pair broken in, some catastrophic event happens, and you bend over and rip the ass out of them or spill a bottle of bleach on them while doing the laundry. Luckily, we found a place that’s stocked full of worthy replacements. With 12 different denim lines from New York and Los Angeles, including Rockin’ Republic and Yanuk, and up to 11 different styles and washes in each line, Bella Rose is the newest downtown depot for hot jeans. Get your Juicy fix here. —Tracey Palmer

Best New Surf Shop
Point Break
369 King St. Downtown 722-4161

Offering 6,000 mix-and-match bathing pieces, over 150 surf boards and growing, Point Break’s shelves seem to never end. This “lifestyle” store (soon to be identified by their store-front wave design) offers all surf-inspired clothes and paraphernalia for men and women, from Billabong, Aaron Chang, Reef, Lost, and Volcom. The extensive Turkish-inspired linen men’s shirt collection is just the counterpoint to the local Lacoste-saturated market Folly heads have been waiting for. Cute stuff from David and Goliath, and an exclusive Dead Sea mineral Skin Care line, Arad, round out this surf mecca’s inventory for the Bettys. —Tracey Palmer

Best Place to Get Eurotrashed
377 King St. Downtown 722-3774

From the owner’s accent to the thumping global soundtrack (French hard rock on our last visit), Goga is your passport to becoming a Eurotrash “who’s that girl.” With flirty, flirty, flirty tops finished off with sequins and lace, and skirts generously cut on the bias, you’ll look ready to jet off to Ibiza to dance the night away. The warm wood-paneled store sets off the array of colorful attire well, and accessories, like the bright blue-feathered handbag straight from the height of Studio 54, round out this shopping destination. Our only hesitation is the owner’s European disregard of customer modesty in the dressing room. Gulp! —Ida Becker

Best Proof that Gentrification Equals Progress
541 King St. Downtown 579-2289

A little slice of SoHo recently arrived on Upper King in the form of this eclectic unisex boutique. Offering brands like Triple5 Soul, Drifter, and Mavi, eye candy additives for the home, and a house/lounge/dub-reggae music collection that has been pre-tested for funk, this haven for the hip is worth the walk uptown. —Tracey Palmer

Best Place to Outfit Your Cowboy
The Recycled Cowboy
181 College Park Road Ladson 569-7573

Up in Ladson, off exit 203, there’s one of the best-kept secrets of the Lowcountry. See, they have this square dance room filled with all kinds of amazing dresses, skirts, belts, and shoes in every color of the rainbow. You could smother in all the crinoline in here, I swear. Over in the corner is a set of crates with perhaps the best offering of all, at least according to our fashion-conscious friends: pettipants. With burlesque in vogue right now, the need for cute underwear has increased twentyfold. Head on up to Ladson to get your frilly (and cheap!) fix. —Sara Miller

Biggest Preps
Palm Avenue and Lacoste
251 King St. 725-6283 Downtown and 248 King St. Downtown 723-0256

Lilly and Lacoste sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. When the rooftop bar at Market Pavilion opened, someone we know classified the crowd, with a touch of disdain, as “totally Lilly.” The opening of both signature stores on King Street indicates there is something to the joie de vivre marketing of pretty sun-kissed honeyed girls and polo boys romping on the beach in Caribbean hues of pink, blue, and green. High time, as there was something missing amidst the seersucker and boating attire championed by so many. And have we learned nothing from Queer Eye? We need a stylist in Charleston, stat. —Ida Becker

Best Place to Find Knock-Off Lilly
Willy Jay’s
300 King St. Downtown 579-0330

At first, the explosion of pink and green confused us since we thought the Lilly Pulitzer store was on the opposite side of King Street. Upon closer inspection, we discovered a complete line of Lilly knock-offs, Palm Beach emblems and all. Next, we assumed the faux Lilly would be a poor girl’s version. Nope! If anything, the slightly askew stitching of the pink pineapples, margarita glasses, whales, and flamingos run in line price-wise with the real deal, if not more. Holy moly! Run for the polo fields, Muffy! —Ida Becker

Best Shopping Feature on King Street
Saks Fifth Avenue
211 King St. Downtown 853-9888

How many other towns the size of Charleston can say they’ve got a swanky Saks anchoring their main shopping district? Sure, it’s expensive and features a bunch of haughty designers we’ve never even heard of, but who cares? Saks is a prize, and its presence proves that we’ve got big spenders willing to drop some bank. Thanks, Saks. —Stephanie Barna

Best Jocks
285 King St. Downtown 723-2203

The explosion of flat-soled athletic footwear in Royal Tenenbaum-esque colors has signaled the arrival, and local embrace, of all things Puma. Tube sock wristbands, a plethora of hats with names like Moma Cat and Confused Cat Trucker, sporty watches, and even a line of yoga clothing designed by Christy Turlington, make being an athlete an attractive proposition. The new Track Training collection was inspired by Jamaican athletes and includes sneakers ideal for sprint and hurdle training … that is, if you actually care about something other than looking cool. And the tunes spun by local DJs add a fun twist to this shopping experience. —Ida Becker

Best Couches
Nova Modus
616 Long Point Road Mt. Pleasant 849-7795

This modern furniture shop on Long Point Road in Mt. Pleasant features the coolest of Italian design, where sleek leather couches fold down to become cozy day beds, and ottomans transform into chairs. Buy a couch here and it will be much more than a place to plant your ass while you watch Project Runway; it’ll be a showpiece with which to impress your friends. —Stephanie Barna

Best place to Whisper ‘Calgon, Take Me Away’
463 King St. Downtown 958-8764

Never before has a bathtub elicited such strong reactions in us before. A stroll around the Upper King district will invariably lead to a long pause at the window of Waterworks, a new bathroom boutique store on King Street. They’ve been displaying a gorgeous copper tub for quite some time now, and every time we pass it, we want to run inside, jump in the tub, and wash our stress away. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Place to Splurge on Colorful Kitchen Gear
Le Creuset
241 King St. Downtown 723-4191

Want to beautify your kitchen with burnt orange stoneware? How about stone-colored cookware? At Le Creuset, you’ll find all the cool accents your kitchen needs, including stylistic steel garlic presses, wine openers, and pump-action dish brushes that look more like modern art than utensils. Plus, the store’s newly renovated open and dynamic space, filled with telescoping displays of cookery, is fun to tour. But be warned: it ain’t Wal-Mart. Even at this signature store, which boasts items unavailable elsewhere, be prepared to cut a big check. —Spencer Deering

Best Place to Pimp Out Your Coffee Table
314 King St. Downtown 577-6272

The array of hipster books available at ESD will make your head swim. From Bond Girls are Forever to Cuban Elegance and Offerings: Buddhist Wisdom for Everyday, this spot is a must before your next house party. What better way to fool your friends into thinking you are a well-versed Renaissance personality with eclectic, yet sophisticated, interests? —Ida Becker

Best Place to Drop Some Cash, a lot of cash
Moore House Antiques
150 King St. Downtown 722-8065

At Moore House, you can spend $600K on a small, one-of-a-kind 18th century Charleston tea table. Yes, we said Six. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Of course, there are other more reasonable antiques available, running from the low thousands into the tens of thousands. So, you bargain hunters should take a weekend off from the flea markets and check it out. But seriously, let’s just say it again, all together now: 600 large for a table. Whew. —Spencer Deering

Best Place to Browse for Antiques
King Street Antique Mall
495 King St. Downtown 723-2211

This deceptively gigantic two-story antique shop includes antiques from 20 different dealers, predominantly from the East Coast who get their wares from Belgium, France, Russia, and even the good ol’ USA. The store features tapestries, furniture, garden statues, 10-foot high mirrors, canes, swords, and even golf memorabilia. The store serves the local area and customers from all over the country. This place is perfect if you ever feel like losing yourself in 9,000 square feet of antiques. —Michael Staton

Best Place to Find Old Stuff
Geo C. Birlant and Co.
191 King St. Downtown 722-3842

Geo C. Birlant looks like an antique store should. Old wooden floors below that have lost their sheen, glittering chandeliers above that have big price tags, and there’s lots of interesting Charleston lore to go with all the antique china, silver, and crystal. Here you’ll find the Charleston bench and the storied rice spoon, and if you don’t know the legends behind these items, the store staff will be happy to fill you in. —Stephanie Barna

Best Store For Pretending You’re French
South of Market
173 King St. Downtown 723-1114

If you want to Frenchify your dwelling, this is the best spot to start. South of Market specializes in French antiques and accessories; the owner of the shop actually travels to France twice a year to hand select everything in the store. It specializes in lighting, most specifically in chandeliers. It also sells upholstered antique furniture, Mitchell Gold in particular, and predominantly French antiques because of their worth and tradition, and the fact that they blend well with interiors. You can also dress your little one like a Frog too, as they’ve got a small room full of very cute clothes for kids.
—Michael Staton

Best Place to Replace Your Mother’s Vase That You Broke
Avondale Junk & Jive
827 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 225-JIVE

Remember the episode of Saved By The Bell when Screech’s parents went out of town and Slater broke the Elvis statue when the boys were dancing and they got scared by the girls spying on them? Well, if only those crazy kids had lived in West Ashley and knew about Junk & Jive, they probably could’ve found a perfect replacement. Packed to the gills with treasures from years gone by, Junk & Jive is the place to go for nostalgia, or replacements for broken nostalgia. Pick up some Fire King mugs, some old-style Pyrex casserole dishes, or a ’70s lamp. The possibilities are endless. —Sara Miller

Best Place to Score Retro Chic on a Dime
Sea Island Habitat for Humanity Store
Charleston Habitat Outlet
3304 Maybank Hwy. Johns Island 559-4009
731 Meeting St. Downtown 579-0777

Early risers score when it comes to second-hand stores, especially at the Habitat Store tucked away about a mile past River Road on Johns Island. If you get there early enough, you might be able to snag a mahogany leather couch, a vintage ’60s orb lamp, or a barely-used set of kitchen cabinets — all recent finds by friends of ours. The sprawling store also has an amazing (and cheap) selection of ceramic tile and fabric if you’ve been bitten by the D.I.Y. bug. The downtown outlet store is equally cool, too. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Funky Knickknacks
Attic Treasures
2024 Wappoo Dr. James Island 762-0418

If you’ve got wall or shelf space begging to be filled, don’t settle for that played-out Spoleto poster or the fourth-grade “most improved sportsman” trophy you’ve kept all these years. At Attic Treasures you can pick up a funky item to creatively adorn your place. Like many antiques shops of its kind, Attic Treasures’ space is divided among consigners who pack their sections with coin collections, golf clubs (that one person reduced by first 25, then 50, and finally 75 percent), baskets, cool art deco scales, and even old waffle irons that some cowboy used over an open fire 100 years ago. If that’s not funky enough, invest in a beautiful wrought iron register cover that looks like a Victorian heating vent. Now that looks cool on the wall. —Spencer Deering

Best Example of an Artist Turned Entrepreneur with Pizzazz
Jeff Kopish at Lime Blue
62 Queen St. Downtown 722-1983

Last June, the owners of both Blink and the neighboring Blumengarten decided to close up shop with a spectacular sidewalk sale, mimosas, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Fortunately, fun pottery artist Jeff Kopish took over the cozy shop at 62 Queen Street and has since renamed it Lime Blue. An artist whose work was featured in Blink, Kopish continues to stock the whimsical items long associated with this locale. Standout pieces include his signature two-bird cracker dishes, au currant felt accessories, and laughing Buddha statues that fly off the shelves. You’ll know you are in the right spot when you spy Kopish’s shaggy but oh-so-loveable golden retriever Ruby welcoming customers from the doorway. —Ida Becker

Best gift shops to Remember Exist DOWNTOWN
Charleston Museum, Historic Charleston
Reproduction Shop, and Gibbes Museum Shop
360 Meeting St. 722-2996, 105 Broad St. 723-8292, 135 Meeting St. 722-2706 ext. 18

Our local museum gift stores are a treasure trove just waiting to be re-discovered. From Historic Charleston Foundation’s flagship reproduction store on the corner of King and Broad streets to the Charleston Museum, where items include an Eliza Lucas Pinckney brooch and C.S.S. Hunley penknife, creative and quality items with an engaging back-story are the name of the game. Over at the Gibbes Museum store, hot items include Julieta Miro’s glass and suede jewelry, Eco Messenger Bags made from recycled shipping and packing materials, Toobers and Zots construction toys, and Objects of Design post cards. Special occasion and holiday shopping are a snap thanks to the array of distinctively different items at each shop and with a member discount to boot. We’ll take it! —Ida Becker

Best HouseWarming Gift
Punch Bag Bozo from Fred
237 King St. Downtown 723-5699

A Bozo the Clown punch bag from Fred on King is without a doubt the most versatile modern-day housewarming gift. With its squeaky nose and ability to right itself when thrown a good jab after a long day, this is the gift that keeps on giving. Situated in the window, he is an ominous silhouette sure to ward off any would-be intruders. His comical, albeit frightening, nature should do the trick when unexpected company drops by with children in tow. A fitting gift for a friend who moved last year, it inspired a website, which is currently in development, to chronicle Bozo’s exploits. We’re just sad we didn’t have him in time for the D2L gala and a photo op with Anne Heche. —Ida Becker

Best Place to Show the Joneses You Have a Sense of Humor
Invitation Station
I’On Square Mt. Pleasant 881-7270

Why is it that every time you plan a shindig at your house, the next week your neighbor tries to one-up you by throwing a “better” party?! You two are constantly battling over who has the coolest party favors and most creative invites, aren’t you? Well here’s a little secret your neighbor doesn’t know about: at Invitation Station, there are enough personalized stationery options and clever cocktail napkins to keep your guests impressed and amused — and your nemesis neighbor green with envy. —Tracey Palmer

Best Place to To Be Registered that Isn’t Williams Sonoma
280 W. Coleman Blvd. Mt. Pleasant 884-1983

Hip, young, to-be-wed couples need to stop getting bridal registries at all the “usual places,” ’cause they always sign up for silly salad shooters and melon ballers like their parents did when they got married. For a couple who need to cultivate some artsy style in their breakfast nook, Rana offers colorful sea glass dishes (both dishwasher and microwave-safe) and Capize shell dipping bowls imported from the Philippines. These items would make a much more personalized and practical wedding gift than that breadmaker the newlyweds will never use. —Tracey Palmer

Best Gift Shop with a Well Inside It
Historic Charleston Foundation Museum Shop
108 Meeting St. Downtown 724-8484

During construction of its Museum Shop on Meeting Street, the Historic Charleston Foundation stumbled upon an old well, which once supplied water to a late 18th-century house. The original building was torn down in 1928 to make way for a gas station. The HCF, being historically minded, decided to preserve the well and put it on display as an attraction in the shop. The well is surrounded by glass so that you won’t fall in, and it includes a picture of the house for which it was originally built. Just try to name one gift shop you’ve ever been to that has a well in it. —Michael Staton

Best Smallest Gifts that Keep on Giving
Red Flower Japan Candles at Stella Nova
292 King St. Downtown 722-9797
and other locations

Miniature items are so enchanting, and Stella Nova has possibly the cutest small thing we’ve ever seen. The Red Flower Japan line features Tom Thumb-sized candles in an array of scents, including Japanese Peony, Thai Honeysuckle, and Italian Blood Orange, and the approximately 2-inch candles burn for a whopping 15 hours! Each tiny box features fresh graphic design and comes with a tiny match book. So cute. A great surprise gift that packs a punch, we guarantee you won’t want to just pick just one. —Ida Becker

Best Store for Gifts that Look Like You Spent a Fortune
Poe Studio
819 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 573-4884

This cozy plaid-wrapped store is one of the quirkiest little retail spots Charleston has to offer. Proprietor Amanda Weld is married to local rocker Richard Weld (Telegram, Genrevolta), and her eccentric rock ’n’ roll sense comes through in her inventory selections. The small spot is packed with everything from sushi plates to hand-made jewelry, including a large selection of artsy and intriguing children’s toys and accessories. If we had our way, someone would knock down a wall or two and make this place even bigger. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Reason to Visit the Market
Market Street Sweets
100 N. Market St. Downtown 722-1397

Market Street is to Charleston what Times Square is to New York: beautiful in its own right, but too commercial and overcrowded to attract locals on a normal basis. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the market’s aesthetic beauty, but we’d rather admire it on the way to $1.50 wing night at Bodacious Burger and avoid the hordes of tourists that crowd the streets in the afternoon hours. But if you’re stuck playing tour guide for the afternoon and find yourself leading a hungry group downtown, plan a stroll by Market Street Sweets. If you can’t quite find the shop’s exact location, just follow the scent of pralines seeping from the shop’s entrance, or look for the sample person at the front encouraging passers-by to take as many samples as they want. In fact, they’re just so good you may want to plan a few strolls by this place before you call it a day. Everyone’s got to get in touch with their inner tourist every once in a while, right? —Erica Harris

Best Place to Get Your Cigar Wrapped
Llanos Dos Palmas Handmade Cigars
52.5 Wentworth St. Downtown 723-4848

Because the staff insisted that we smoke one of their cigars during a recent interview, they should also win the award for nicest staff in downtown Charleston, but we think that this category fits too. The store, which sells only its own cigars, cranks out 150 to 250 stogies a day, with 25 varieties and five different blends. They participate in cigar rolling events, corporate events, and even weddings. They’ve found their local customer base growing recently, and ship cigars all over the country. The staff is friendly and the products are quality, and they roll a mean cigar. —Michael Staton

Best Chocolate — Ever!
Lucas Belgian Chocolate
73 State St. Downtown 722-0461

After we bought some boxes of chocolate as Christmas presents, we realized that Lucas Belgian Chocolate had the best chocolate in Charleston. And then Valentine’s Day arrived and with it a heart-shaped box of expensive, handmade truffles from this little shop just off the Market. Then we realized this was the best chocolate — ever! Sublime. One hell of way to indulge your chocolate fix. —Stephanie Barna

Best Place to Get Your Gummies
Rococo German Imports
975 Savannah Hwy. West Ashley 763-2055

Specializing in German imported chocolates and pastries, as well as sausages and spreadables, Rococo is a great place for tourists and locals alike to get their hands on tasty treats. More importantly, a connoisseur of the gummy (who doesn’t enjoy these gooey confections?!) will tell you that the German manufacturers Harribo and Egger cornered the market long ago. —Tracey Palmer

Best Shopping Protest
Naked PETA Girls
Wed. July 28, 2004
at Saks Fith Avenue, 211 King St. Downtown

If there’s anything we like more than an attractive woman in a fur, it’s an attractive woman out of a fur. Protesting in the buff is a timeworn tradition for those who are serious about getting a crowd’s attention, but it was nevertheless refreshing to see two extremely sexy young hotties from PETA don their birthday suits in front of Saks Fifth Avenue last July in a terrifically memorable protest against … something or other … oh yes, fur. —Patrick Sharbaugh

Most Likely to Give Bad Advice
Charleston Area Visitors Center
375 Meeting St. Downtown 853-8000

Cunning indeed were the folks who thought to put a “visitor’s center” next door to the seemingly endless throngs of tourists, er visitors, clogging the sidewalk outside of Hyman’s seafood restaurant on Meeting Street. The caveat, of course, is that the joint is really a timeshare sales office masquerading as a visitor’s center. In truth, the officially sanctioned Charleston Area Visitor’s Center is located on Meeting Street near the Charleston Museum. The mayor even stepped in and forced the faux visitor’s center to amend their name and thus avoid confusion. Still, on a recent afternoon, we were greeted by their genial salutation, “Folks, where ya from?”, which was immediately followed by, “get your complete visitor information here.” Last time we checked, visitor information meant carriage tour, not hour-long timeshare tour. —Ida Becker

Best Trend to Reinforce Threat of Mallification
Brooks Brothers and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers

Both esteemed men’s clothiers are moving to King Street. Jos. A. Banks is actually taking over the space of a locally owned men’s clothing store, Max’s, which recently closed after 70-plus years of business. It seems the death knell keeps tolling for mom and pop stores on King Street, but … (see next entry). —Stephanie Barna

Best Trend to Reinforce Strength of Mom-and-Pops on King Street
Tons of Newly Opened Boutiques

In the past year, several new boutiques have opened their doors in our main shopping district — V2V, Rosita Jones, Bella Rose, Goga, B’zar — and they’re finding a crowd of shoppers hungry to buy what they’re selling. The resurgence of the mom-and-pop is surely a sign that King Street won’t become a glorified mall, right? Actually, what’s really happening is that King Street remains what it’s always been historically — a burgeoning shopping district with a healthy mix of national chains and locally-owned shops, whether it’s Woolworths or Saks, Max’s or Nula, Berlin’s or Brooks Brothers, King Street welcomes them all and provides enough business to go around. —Stephanie Barna

Best Save from the Ashes
Bert’s Market
202 E. Ashley Ave. Folly Beach 588-9449

This past summer many locals were devastated to see Folly Beach’s favorite market closed due to fire. But hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and kitchen fires can’t douse this local fave. Shortly thereafter, employees threw up a stand and kept on truckin’. Bert’s lives up to their motto: “We may doze, but we never close.” —Stephanie Braswell

Best In-Store Promotion
Paul Frank Visits Nula
320 King St. Downtown 853-6566

When designer Paul Frank rolled into town last fall inside a giant Winnebago shrink-wrapped in his whimsical images no less, it created quite a rumble. Literally. Many people spied his giant ride trying to navigate the narrow streets downtown rather unsuccessfully, and it caused a Pied Piper effect. His in-store appearance at Nula on King Street created such buzz, the line to meet the man stretched all the way down the block. He cheerfully posed for photos with fans of all ages and played along, albeit in a bashful manner, when one grown woman asked him to sign her recently purchased Julius the Monkey panties. —Ida Becker

Best Reason to Go to West Trashley
Avondale Renaissance

West Ashley used to be the place you went to if you wanted to buy a car or go to the mall. Over the past couple of years, though, the Avondale section has experienced tremendous growth — and a surge in its hipness quotient — with the old favorites (Gene’s Haufbrau, Poe Studio) mixing with the new class (Voodoo, Avondale Station, Junk & Jive Retro Mart). Suddenly guys in horn-rimmed glasses are saying, “Hey, skip downtown, let’s go to West Ashley.” The plentiful parking might have something to do with it, too. —Shawnté Salabert

Best Fairy Godmother
Cinderella Project

The local chapter of the Cinderella Project, which collects cocktail dress donations for young girls who may not otherwise be able to afford a prom dress, is gearing up for its fifth annual clothing drive. And with a town that shudders at the thought of recycling party duds, Charleston is ripe for the picking. Dresses in all sizes, evening bags, and unopened makeup are needed. “Boutiques” will be held in March to give the girls an opportunity to shop for their dresses. Runner-up: Dress for Success (574-1813), a local non-profit that supplies women in need with a suit to help prepare for a job interview. Clients receive a second suit when they land a job. —Ida Becker
?Best Way to Spend $1
Buy The Onion at 52.5 Records
75 Wentworth St. Downtown 722-3525

A dollar might not get you squat anymore — unless you have a sense of humor. 52.5 Records is the only place downtown we know of that carries the classic satirical newsweekly The Onion, and, yep, it’s only a buck (although there is a sign by the register that says, “We know it’s free where you’re from.”). —Shawnté Salabert